Members of Parliament have voted in favour of introducing Covid passes for entry to nightclubs in England. This means using the NHS Covid app to show proof of either full vaccination or a negative PCR or lateral flow test.
The new policy comes into effect today, Wednesday 15th December, and covers both nightclubs and large venues. This includes indoor events of 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events of more than 4,000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 people.
Originally set out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week, proposals were ratified with 369 votes in favour and 126 against. Labour leadership and the majority of the Conservative party backed the motion, with 101 Conservatives not in support.
The new measures - known as Plan B — also include a number of other changes. While mask-wearing was already mandatory on public transport and in shops, this has now been expanded to indoor public venues such as cinemas, theatres, and places of worship. Hospitality — including pubs, restaurants, and bars — remains exempt. Guidance to work from home has also been reinstated as of Monday 13th December.
According to The Music Venue Trust, concerns over the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the UK, and specifically the new omicron variant, are causing drastic declines in audience numbers. The organisation is now calling on renewed government support for the sector.
Experts estimate some 40% of ticket holders are not atteneding events they have paid for, which threatens to have a significant knock-on impact on venues and artists, with bar receipts and merchandise sales down. Confusing government messaging has been blamed for the situation.
Elsewhere in the UK, Northern Irish opened late October, with customer details required to be taken for contact tracing. Welsh clubs are using a Covid pass scheme, but eligibility has now changed — those opting to take a lateral flow to enter a venue must complete their test no longer than 24 hours before the event.
Scotland has been operating a vaccine passport scheme since 1st October, and this week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged the public to limit inter-household contact ahead of Christmas. According to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), around 86,000 jobs have been lost in the UK sector since the start of the pandemic.